EMT at LSHS

Students Earn EMT Certification at LSHS
Posted on 01/23/2020
A cohort of students at Lithia Springs High School (LSHS) will soon be the first to graduate from the high school ready for work as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). LSHS has offered the Emergency Medical Responder Pathway for years, but beginning this semester, the pathway has widened to provide all the education and clinicals needed for students to sit for testing with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Pending satisfactory test results and upon reaching age 18, individuals are considered to have the knowledge and skills required for competent practice as EMTs.
The LSHS program is a partnership with the Douglas County Fire/EMS Department. The local fire department is lending some of its training officers to the program, including Lt. Stacie Farmer, an LSHS alumna. Lt. Farmer says there is a national shortage of EMTs, but a little closer to home, she says Douglas County is also experiencing a shortage of qualified personnel.
Debbie Vinsant, health occupations teacher at LSHS and an EMT, teaches the majority of classroom curriculum, with Lt. Farmer spearheading the ambulance clinicals and occasional Saturday classes. Vinsant and Lt. Farmer both are quick to point out the State of GA requires 20 hours minimum of clinicals, but the LSHS program requires 40 hours minimum. According to Lt. Farmer, “Our Saturday classes are ‘hands-on’ learning including American Heart Association CPR; helicopter landing and loading demonstrations; practice sessions with a driving simulator provided by the Sheriff’s Office to prepare students for driving ambulances; and time on ambulances and fire trucks. We believe the extra hours of training above the state minimum help ensure our future EMTs are confident and well-prepared.”
“Students will get hands-on experiences through our association with the Fire and EMS Department that they can’t get in the classroom,” said Vinsant. “Students riding along on actual fire and medical calls are supervised by state approved clinical preceptors (mentors),” explains Lt. Farmer. She goes on to say if a call is above the maturity level of a teenager, he or she may remain on the rig. “We’re not going to force teenagers to do something they’re not ready for.”
Interestingly, the LSHS EMT program developed after a casual conversation between Fire/EMS Chief Scott Spencer, also an LSHS graduate, and Breezy Straton with the Douglas County Economic Development Authority. The two began talking at a county meeting last year about the number of county firefighters (who must also be EMTs) expected to retire in the next decade. “Part of my work with the EDA (Economic Development Authority) is making sure there is a viable work force across industry sectors in the county,” said Straton. “The Fire Department is an integral part of our community, and ensuring we have a trained and qualified workforce for them is good for all people who call Douglas County home – residents and businesses.”
Because LSHS had not planned to expand the Emergency Medical Responder Pathway this year, it did not budget for all the student-related costs including uniforms and liability insurance for clinicals and one-use textbooks. The EDA is helping with these expenses through a small grant this year, but the school will cover them in future budgets. The Fire/EMS Department is covering expenses for the clinicals.
“If students do well on the state test and are added to the Registry and are at least 18 years old, they can begin working as EMTs with beginning salaries around $38,000 and no school debt,” said Lt. Farmer. “EMTs work 24 hours on and 48 off, so that’s not bad pay for working every third day.” Vinsant said, “there’s plenty of flexibility for EMTs if they want to pursue college or technical school while earning a living.”
Added Chief Spencer: “The Douglas County Fire Department is excited about the opportunity to work with our local school system, our community partners and our personnel to give the next generation of EMTs and firefighters a jump start into the ‘best job in the world’.”

While the local Fire/EMS Department is a partner in the LSHS EMS program, there is no requirement that EMTs coming out of the program seek local employment. EMTs in training at LSHS
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